[Met Performance] CID:158010
New production
Rigoletto {305} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/15/1951.

(Debuts: Hilde Güden, Alois Pernerstorfer, Norman Scott, Algerd Brazis, Eugene Berman

Metropolitan Opera House
November 15, 1951
New production

Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Leonard Warren
Gilda...................Hilde Güden [Debut]
Duke of Mantua..........Richard Tucker
Maddalena...............Jean Madeira
Sparafucile.............Alois Pernerstorfer [Debut]
Monterone...............Norman Scott [Debut]
Borsa...................Paul Franke
Marullo.................Clifford Harvuot
Count Ceprano...........Lawrence Davidson
Countess Ceprano........Anne Bollinger
Giovanna................Thelma Votipka
Page....................Margaret Roggero
Guard...................Algerd Brazis [Debut]

Conductor...............Alberto Erede

Director................Herbert Graf
Designer................Eugene Berman [Debut]
Choreographer...........Zachary Solov

Rigoletto received eighteen performances this season.
[Hilde Güden's last name was sometimes spelled Gueden.]

Review of Olin Downes in The New York Times

Güden, Pernerstorfer, Scott and Brazis Heard for First Time at Metropolitan

The production of Verdi's "Rigoletto" last night in the Metropolitan Opera House, with new scenery and costumes by Eugene Berman and stage direction by Herbert Graf, was one of the most interesting and exciting interpretations of this work that we have seen. There was a very fine cast, with four successful debuts, a freshly conceived and highly dramatic presentation of the music.

The stage setting is of the period of Hugo's play from which the opera is derived. It is Renaissance, rich and imposing, and far nearer the original conception of Verdi than the rulings of the Italian censor at the time of the "Rigoletto" premiere permitted. This in itself would not have a determinative upon the dramatic interpretation as a whole, if it were not companioned with such unity of effect by Mr. Graf's stage business and Mr. Erede with his baton and his singers.

The groupings of the first act added immensely to the dramatic power and contrast of the scene -- Marullo and the courtiers, Rigoletto's enemies, clearly delineating, plotting their revenge; the Duke and the Jester in special relations of position and action to each other; the dancing, which was uncommonly well done, and the dancers not curtained off from the guests of the occasion, as is frequent, and emerging in the center the ominous figure of the accusing Monterone. The second act was arranged with equal inventiveness and unhackneyed detail.

The scene of the abduction of Gilda was by far the best contrived that we have seen, with the stage all action and purpose, and so well coordinated with the score that for the only time in our experience the chorus of "Zitti, zitti" was not ridiculous, but quickening to the pulse. The swift entrance and disappearance of the courtiers carrying Gilda into the Duke's inner chamber is an excellent and legitimate device, which makes the more effective what happens afterward between Rigoletto and the courtiers. The stage last night was no mere background for the performances of solo singers. It was as agent of the drama.Gilda was Hilde Güden, a member of the Vienna State Opera and La Scala at Milan since 1947. A degree of nervousness consequent, presumably, upon the tensions of a Metropolitan debut, interfered a little with her vocalism in the early scenes. This did not obscure the fact of the beauty of her voice, and the charm, the filial tenderness and girlish coquetry of her impersonation. Her acting and expressiveness in song gave a new vitality to the character which is usually represented as a linnet-headed, bird-voiced creature who customarily banishes sympathy or any fellow-feeling, even under the unhappy circumstances of one of the most unhappy of all operatic heroines.

But it was above all Leonard Warren's evening. He is a finer artist as well as a greater singer this season than ever before. His Rigoletto was an object lesson in artistic singing and in dramatic pronouncement. The climax of the part is the third act in the passages with the courtiers and the following scenes with Gilda. The pathos and feeling with which Mr. Warren invested the role were the crown of his interpretation.

Mr. Tucker's Duke was robust, resonant, impassioned too, though sung with less elegance than could have been bestowed upon it. Jean Madeira took the part of abandoned Maddalena in most convincing fashion. She was more than a straw figure in the quartet.

The Monterone was another newcomer, Norman Scott of this city, all of whose experience has been in America. One would think that he had sung on many of the world's stages, He employed a fine resonance and was an imposing figure, as to the manner born. Alois Pernerstorfer, appearing as Sparafucile, was also accomplished in song, and eloquent in the dialogue with Rigoletto over the muted crooning strings which creep along in the depths of the orchestra in the most original and prophetic passages that Verdi of the Eighteen Fifties penned. Algerd Brazis filled a minor part with entire competence.

Mr. Harvuot's Marullo sang more importantly, by far, than is customary and by so much gave the more impetus to the plot. Mr. Erede captained the performance, with excellent choice of tempi, control of his forces and conception of the score as a whole.

Photograph of Hilde Güden as Gilda.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).